Clear eyesight is at the foundation of all our lives, but for children, their vision must be as clear as possible. Not only are they encountering new sights every day, but in school, around 80 per cent of material is presented to children visually. Trouble seeing has a direct impact on a child’s ability to learn, and blurry vision in kids of all ages is a common complaint.
While some schools offer students vision screenings, these are not as comprehensive as a children’s eye test administered by a licensed eye care specialist.
Here are 10 signs your child needs an eye test.
When a child squints to see something, it often indicates a vision problem. It helps to sharpen vision because it limits the amount of light that enters the eyes and focuses it directly onto the centre of the retina. Squinting can be a symptom of a refractive problem such as myopia or astigmatism.
2. Itchy Eyes
Often, what appears to be a child with itchy eyes rubbing them is a child with vision problems. While fatigue can be at the heart of the problem, younger children without verbal skills to explain their predicament will rub their eyes in an attempt to wipe away the blurred vision.
3. Head Tilt
Children who tilt their heads are doing so to try and correct a vision issue. When a child’s eyes are misaligned, tilting the head can offer temporary minor correction of vision issues. Another common vision problem that leads to head tilting is astigmatism. Head tilting should be brought to your child’s vision care specialist’s attention for diagnosis and treatment.
4. Trouble Reading
Difficulty reading is a frequent issue for kids who have problems with their vision. Children who struggle with reading often:
Read below their grade level
Lose their place when reading
Skip words or sentences when reading out loud
Use their finger to keep track of their place when reading
Often, refractive problems are the cause of reading difficulties in children.
5. Sitting Close to a TV or Objects
Many children will gather close to the television, each trying to squeeze closer than the others. However, if a child has complete access to the TV, computer, or other screen and is still excessively close to it, you should take this as a signal to make an appointment for a complete exam. The same is true for a kid who holds a book or other object unusually close to their face. Often, nearsightedness is the cause of this behaviour, but a professional eye exam is in order.
6. Behavioural Issues
Unfortunately, undetected vision problems may surface as behavioural problems. Poor vision makes learning and interacting in school difficult. Additionally, a child’s self-esteem plummets when they are unsuccessful in class. In these situations, children often act out, have poor concentration, avoid schoolwork, struggle with concentration, are not efficient, or are highly distractable. In some cases, children with vision problems are mislabeled as hyperactive or as having ADHD when corrective lenses were the treatment necessary. A situation like this makes a strong case for consistent eye exams.
7. Frequent Headaches or Eye Pain
Often, children with farsightedness or astigmatism will experience severe headaches or pain in the eyes after spending time reading, doing computer work, or other near-vision activities. The pain occurs because the eye muscles are working much harder to allow the eyes to focus on the activities. After a period spent experiencing headaches or eye discomfort, the child may begin to avoid near vision endeavours to decrease the instance of pain.
8. Poor Coordination
When a child cannot see well, they usually struggle with movement and activities. Not only does this negatively impact a child’s ability to be successful in sports activities, but it also makes getting from here to there difficult. Many of these children unnecessarily label themselves as clumsy when they do not see as well as they should. An eye exam and corrective lenses can help your child if they struggle with coordination.
9. General Inability to See Objects at a Distance
Not being able to see objects strongly indicates a vision problem. This also calls attention to visual deficits in younger children who may not be able to communicate the visual difficulties they experience. Slightly older children may complain about not being able to read assignments written on the board in class, or they may miss specific details of events happening a distance away from them.
10. Light Sensitivity
Various eye problems can lead to light sensitivity. Often, inflammation in the eyes leads to pain when the child is exposed to light for some time. Children who struggle with vision-related light sensitivity also report that uncomfortable glare accompanies the issue.
Your child’s vision is priceless and needs regular monitoring. If you notice any of the signs that point to a potential vision problem, you should address the matter with a vision test as soon as you can. Early detection puts your child in the best possible situation to eliminate their vision problems.
You can feel free to contact the experts at E Eye Place. Our friendly staff have years of experience testing and treating children’s vision issues. We know how to help your child relax and have a comfortable experience while we test their eyes.
Very young children (four and under) can develop vision problems. Around three per cent of children between the ages of two and five need corrective lenses, so it is never too early to schedule an eye test in Perth for your child.
Stephanie is an owner optometrist, researcher and educator. She has held clinical, teaching and research roles in Australia and overseas, and has extensive training and clinical experience. Stephanie is also the head optometrist at E Eye Place, on top of this, she is also currently a PhD candidate at UNSW. Dr Stephanie Yeo Optometrist BOptom (HC1) GradCertOcTher DOPT (Merit) CO Ophthalmic Medicines Prescriber.